hy·​phen·​ate | \ ˈhī-fə-ˌnāt How to pronounce hyphenate (audio) \
hyphenated; hyphenating

Definition of hyphenate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to connect (words) or divide (a word, such as a word at the end of a line of print) with a hyphen



Definition of hyphenate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who performs more than one function (such as a producer-director in filmmaking)

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Other Words from hyphenate


hyphenation \ ˌhī-​fə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce hyphenation (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?


In the early 20th century, the noun hyphenate referred to a resident or citizen of the U.S. whose recent foreign national origin caused others to question his or her patriotic loyalties - with or without there being just cause for that questioning. These hyphenates - the Irish-Americans, German-Americans, and others - were objects of suspicion. The hyphenates we're highlighting today are more often objects of admiration. Since around 1974, we've been referring to people with hyphens in their titles - producer-directors, for example, as hyphenates.

Examples of hyphenate in a Sentence

Verb In English, we hyphenate some compounds but not others.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Leonardo da Vinci was a multi-hyphenate visionary known equally for his art and ahead-of-his-time engineering designs. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "500 Years Later, da Vinci's Mechanical Lion Is Brought to Life," 19 Sep. 2019 These are rated as second-highest quality and their names are often hyphenated with the nearby town (e.g. Meursault-Charmes). Lettie Teague, WSJ, "Beat the Burgundy Bubble: 11 Still-Affordable Wines," 7 Dec. 2017 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, "Let Mama Name Your Baby in 2017," 27 Dec. 2016 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, "Let Mama Name Your Baby in 2017," 1 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The multi-hyphenate actor-singer-producer will join the usual lineup of judges — Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, and Robin Thicke — as a guest judge on the first episode of season 3, which airs Feb. 2 on Fox, following the Super Bowl. Kelsey Hurwitz, Woman's Day, "Jamie Foxx Will Appear On 'The Masked Singer' Season 3, and We Can't Wait," 9 Jan. 2020 The multi hyphenate was up for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in any motion picture. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez Continue to Be Couple Goals in Heart-Melting Golden Globes Posts," 6 Jan. 2020 Doug the Pug, the multi-hyphenate pet celebrity, is tacking on another title to his impressive resume. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Instagram Star Doug the Pug Is Now Making Shoes for Humans that Help Out Pets," 29 Oct. 2019 Thanks to multi-hyphenate queen Selena Gomez, the holidays have come early this year. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "Selena Gomez Announces Her New Album's Title, "Rare"," 12 Dec. 2019 The multi-hyphenate star went above and beyond the typical television performance format, delivering an artistic, nine-minute set complete with costumed backup dancers, conceptual choreography, and a modern, slinky wardrobe. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Solange Blessed 'Jimmy Fallon' with a Nine-Minute Set of Performance Art," 3 Dec. 2019 The multi-hyphenate graced Instagram feeds yesterday with a series of vacation-minded snaps that made the case for pool-fresh hair, even as the temperatures continue to drop. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "For Rihanna, Fresh-From-the-Pool Hair Is a Year-Round Affair," 21 Nov. 2019 Banks tweeted Monday, referencing her multi-hyphenate contributions to the project, which stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as a trio of spies in an action-comedy tale inspired by the 1976 television series of the same name. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Elizabeth Banks still 'proud' of Charlie's Angels after 'flop' opening weekend," 18 Nov. 2019 In his first post, the multi-hyphenate appears on a young man’s phone, only to be plucked from the screen and dropped into the room with him. Wired, "Will Smith Is on TikTok Now," 3 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hyphenate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hyphenate


circa 1889, in the meaning defined above


1974, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hyphenate


from the hyphens in the titles of such people, as producer-director

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Time Traveler for hyphenate

Time Traveler

The first known use of hyphenate was circa 1889

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Statistics for hyphenate

Cite this Entry

“Hyphenate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyphenates. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for hyphenate


How to pronounce hyphenate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hyphenate

: to connect (words or parts of words) with a hyphen


hy·​phen·​ate | \ ˈhī-fə-ˌnāt How to pronounce hyphenate (audio) \
hyphenated; hyphenating

Kids Definition of hyphenate

: to connect or mark with a hyphen

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More from Merriam-Webster on hyphenate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hyphenate

Spanish Central: Translation of hyphenate

Nglish: Translation of hyphenate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hyphenate

What made you want to look up hyphenate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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